There’s not much football left to be played, but the wild-card round starts Saturday. If you’re in a fantasy football playoff league, or are playing the NFL Playoff Challenge on NFL.com, you’ll want to go here for my rankings. If you’re playing daily fantasy, check out my wild-card rankings below.
Most respectable yearlong fantasy football leagues have concluded their seasons. But I know there are still some owners out there that have to face Week 17 with a championship on the line. There are also daily fantasy sports competitions going on this week as well. This is probably the most volatile time to make calls for your lineup, given that a lot of teams have nothing to play for on Sunday. I’m here to help, however, so here’s who should start—and who you should avoid—in Week 17.
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Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Cousins doesn’t have much to play for, but he hasn’t for a while. Still, he tossed three touchdowns last week and has a great matchup against the Giants this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: The 49ers are looking to get things started on the right foot for next season. Garoppolo showed what he could do against a top defense last weekend and he should do it again against a disinterested Rams team this week.
Case Keenum, QB, Vikings: Though he has a tough matchup against a Bears defense that is good at limiting fantasy scoring for quarterbacks, I expect him to perform well. The Vikings need to win to guarantee a first-round bye and he’s been a model of consistency for most of the season.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers: He has a good matchup against the Lions and scored the last time he faced them. He’s getting a lot of carries, at least 10 in each of the last eight games.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: The last time Drake faced the Bills he rushed 16 times for 78 yards and caught six passes for 35 yards. He also scored in the game, making him a solid start this week against a bad Bills defense.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: The Patriots want home-field advantage and that means Lewis should perform well. Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead will both miss the game and James White is questionable.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: It’s unbelievable that the Titans still have a shot at the playoffs. With DeMarco Murray ruled out of action, Henry finally gets a turn to shine. I think he gets the job done against the Jaguars’ run defense.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With hope of gaining a No. 1 seed and Antonio Brown out, I expect Smith-Schuster to pick up the slack and put in a WR1 type of week against the Browns.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: He faces a Seahawks defense that isn’t what it once was. The last time he faced them he caught 10 of his 14 targets for 113 yards.
Lions receivers: Marvin Jones and Golden Tate should both do well against a Packers defense that gives up a lot of big pass plays.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Hunter Henry is out so Gates has another opportunity to pay off. With the Chargers needing a win for a shot at the playoffs, I expect him to be solid against the Raiders.
STARS WITH SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: He’s gunning for the No. 1 seed in the AFC so he’ll probably put up solid numbers and won’t sit unless the game gets out of hand.
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: The Seahawks need to win to get in. Wilson has been great late in the season the past few years and Doug Baldwin has been a big part of that.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: If Pittsburgh wins, they have a shot at the No. 1 seed, but they need the Pats to lose to the Jets. Might be tough to start Big Ben if you’re worried he might be pulled at halftime, but a good first half against Cleveland may be just enough.
Falcons big three: It’s a must-win game for the Falcons. So Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones won’t see any rest.
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen, Chargers: They’ll need to play well for the Chargers to have a chance at making the postseason.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: The Panthers are in, but they can clinch the NFC South title with a win and a Saints loss.
Saints running backs: The Saints are trying to take the NFC South title and both running backs, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, should do well against the Bucs.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: The Bills will need McCoy to put up a solid game against Miami if they hope to get into the playoffs.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Getting the No. 1 seed is a long shot, so Bell may sit if the Patriots pull away from the Jets and Mike Tomlin is scoreboard watching. But again, it’s a good matchup against the Browns.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: All the Ravens need to make the playoffs is a win. Collins has been solid and is just 105 yards from a 1,000-yard season.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: He’s in the same boat as Brady and should produce like he usually does.
Vikings receivers: The Vikings need a win to get a first-round bye. Case Kenum will do his best to get Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs involved.
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Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: Foles could use the reps, but the last thing the Eagles need is their quarterback to go down with injury. They already have have home-field advantage in the playoffs and a bye week to get him more reps. Even if he starts, he probably won’t stay in there for long.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: To be honest, I don’t want to start anyone in that Cowboys-Eagles game. The season can’t end soon enough for Prescott, who is in much need of a reset button. He was terrible against the Eagles last time out and Tyron Smith won’t be there to help protect the quarterback.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: The matchup with the Ravens is too tough and the Bengals have had a nightmare of a season. Dalton threw four picks the last time he faced Baltimore.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Alfred Blue is getting most of the touches in Houston these days. Miller doesn’t look like an enticing play this week against a Colts defense that is decent against the run.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: The Eagles have nothing to play for and should rest up their top running back.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: Atlanta is still fighting for a playoff spot, but Coleman has a tough matchup and Devonta Freeman will likely get the higher share of action.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: Same reason I wouldn’t start Ajayi, plus he hasn’t had the best chemistry with Foles so far.
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: He’s got a terrible matchup against the Chargers this week. The Raiders have been a major disappointment this season and Cooper has played a role in that. He had five catches for 28 yards the last time he faced the Chargers.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Why should he start playing well now? With the Cowboys out of playoff contention, it will be interesting to see how Jason Garrett handles playing time for Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Bryant. I don’t expect them to be in harms way for too long.
STARS WITH NOTHING TO PLAY FOR
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: He was given the week off in favor of Patrick Mahomes.
Rams offensive leaders: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the Rams receivers aren’t likely to play. Goff and Gurley are definitely resting. Cooper Kupp is dealing with a knee while Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins probably won’t see much action.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: The Chiefs clinched the No. 4 seed and there’s no reason to put Hunt in danger after he’s found a grove once again.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars: The Jaguars can’t improve their spot, so I think Fournette will use the time to heal up.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Sure, his team technically has a shot to win the No. 1 seed, but he’s still recovering from injury and Tomlin won’t risk him being unavailable for the playoffs.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: He’s nursing a calf injury and has no reason to risk playing on Sunday.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers: The newly re-signed Adams suffered two concussions this season and shouldn’t suit up against the Lions.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: With a locked up seed for the playoffs and Patrick Mahomes starting at quarterback, the Chiefs would do well to sit Hill.
With less than a minute to play, Jake Elliott nailed a 48-yard field goal to put the Eagles ahead of the Raiders on Monday night. That wasn’t the final play of the game, however. The Eagles scored a defensive touchdown on a desperation play by the Raiders to end Week 16’s action and the fantasy football playoffs for most leagues.
It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to realize someone’s fantasy championship contest turned on that final field goal, or that final defensive touchdown.
It’s also probably safe to assume that an extremely high percentage of fantasy champions had Todd Gurley on their rosters.
Gurley has to be the sure fire fantasy MVP, not only given his year-long production, but also due to his performances during the fantasy playoffs. He held his best game for last, gaining 118 yards rushing and 158 yards receiving to go with two scores. It was the first time anyone has gained 100-plus yards rushing and 150-plus yards receiving in a game since Herschel Walker did so in 1986.
Gurley’s performance in Week 16 was highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass that he took the distance. That’s the kind of play that makes a quarterback look good.
Jared Goff had the best fantasy performance by a quarterback this week, throwing for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Other than connecting with Gurley on two scores, Goff also hit Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins with touchdown passes. He didn’t hook up well with Robert Woods, who looked like he was going to regain his spot as the No. 1 receiver for the Rams. He had just three catches for 33 yards in a disappointing start.
The biggest disappointments at wide receiver had to be Alshon Jeffery and Michael Crabtree. Each was shut out in the Monday night contest. What a time for that to happen with championships on the line. Nick Foles underwhelmed, after a solid outing last week for the Eagles, and failed to get the ball to Jeffery on two targets. I suggested you sit Derek Carr in Week 16, and he proved me right with a poor performance in which he couldn’t get Crabtree involved at all.
This week’s top receivers, outside of Todd Gurley, were Larry Fitzgerald, Jakeem Grant and Julio Jones. It was a real assortment of talent levels and experience.
Fitzgerald, once again topped 100 catches and 1,000 yards this year as he caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. We keep expecting him to fall off after 14 seasons, but he keeps putting up solid numbers.
Jakeem Grant is just in his second year and has now scored twice in the last three weeks after not being a factor all season. He caught four of his six targets from Jay Cutler for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Julio Jones caught seven passes for 149 yards in a bounce back from Week 15’s lackluster performance. If his owners were lucky enough to survive that week, they were rewarded in Week 16.
Outside of Goff, Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles had he best days for quarterbacks. Both Cousins and Bortles continue to prove that you can get quality fantasy production out of a quarterback who is having a bad game. Cousins hit just 51 percent of his passes but threw for 299 yards and three scores.
I predicted Bortles would help a team win a fantasy championship, and if he was started on Sunday, he probably did. Bortles had three interceptions against the 49ers but also threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Add to that his 31 rushing yards and you have great fantasy production.
Also in that game, Jimmy Garoppolo convinced me to never doubt him again. The quarterback, who is now 6-0 as a starter, had 242 yards passing and two touchdowns. He rushed for another touchdown as he didn’t let the league’s top pass defense slow down his momentum.
If you were out of your fantasy playoffs entering the week, these are the kinds of performances you should stow away heading into next season. Fantasy owners tend to forget about the last couple of weeks of action, especially if they’ve been eliminated from contention. It’s a good idea to take notes for next season, though.
Someone you should be paying attention to is Dion Lewis. I had him listed as one of my starts for Week 16 and he delivered by rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown. He added five catches for 24 yards and another score on his way to having the second best day by a running back.
Gio Bernard also had a great day, though his upside beyond next week is extremely limited. He rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was Bernard’s third straight week of scoring in double digits in fantasy points. If Joe Mixon remains sidelined in Week 17, Bernard could start again.
Bilal Powell and C.J. Anderson can also be filed under, “productive running backs on teams with nothing to play for.” Powell rushed 19 times for 145 yards and a touchdown while Anderson gained 133 yards from scrimmage and scored.
Speaking of running backs who no longer have anything to play for, Ezekiel Elliott made his return to the field after his six-game suspension. Things were set up perfectly for the Cowboys, who had a good shot at making the playoffs if they had just won their final two games.
Elliott performed well, even, rushing for 97 yards and catching four passes for 21 more. The Cowboys couldn’t pull off the win, however, and it might make sense to shut down their franchise back in a meaningless Week 17 game with the Eagles.
While Week 17 is meaningless for most of the NFL, it should be meaningless to all season-long fantasy football leagues everywhere. Any fantasy league that has Week 17 as a factor in determining its fantasy champion is doing a tremendous disservice to its owners. Some think a two-week final is appropriate, in which the championship is played across Week 16 and 17. I’m not one of those people, especially given the fact that real NFL teams often have different goals in Week 17.
With that in mind, that’s why I won’t be suggesting waiver wire pick ups for Week 17. Instead I’m providing inexpensive options for those interested in daily fantasy sports and one-week competitions.
DFS targets for Week 17
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: This should be an easy call by now. If he can do what he did to the Jaguars, he can do it to the Rams.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Though the Jaguars have nothing to play for, as their seeding is locked in, Cole may still end up seeing a lot of action. Jacksonville has injury issues at the position and Cole has been on fire.
Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals: There won’t be a rush to bring Joe Mixon back and Bernard has the versatility to put up nice numbers given the opportunity.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans: He’s getting more carries than Lamar Miller and is doing more with them. He faces the Colts in Week 17.
Jakeem Grant, WR, Dolphins: Grant is impressing, but he does have a tough matchup with the Bills in Week 17.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Jacksonville won’t risk injuring Leonard Fournette before the playoffs. Yeldon gets to face a Titans defense that got killed by Gurley.
It all comes down to this. You’ve been locked in since August, very likely even before that. You followed all of the free agent action in March before turning your attention to the rookie draft about a month later. It’s time for all of your analysis and gut instincts to pay off.
Week 16 kicks off on Saturday instead of Thursday this week. The Colts take on the Ravens and the Vikings visit the Packers. One player you won’t be starting is Aaron Rodgers, who has been shut down since the Packers have been eliminated from the playoffs. Case Keenum should be pretty solid against Green Bay, however. Here’s a look at who else you should start, and sit, in Week 16.
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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Before his ugly game at Kansas City last week he was on a roll. I’m expecting him to bounce back against a bad Jets pass defense. He’ll be highly motivated as the Chargers need a win to stay alive for the playoffs.
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: His first start in relief of Carson Wentz went as well as could be expected as he tossed four touchdowns against the Giants. He’ll face a disappointing Raiders team in Week 16 and if he can put up numbers close to the ones from Week 15 his owners will be satisfied.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: I suggested Bortles as a strong start last week and I think he can come through again this week. His receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook are playing really well right now. It’s a great matchup for Bortles as he faces the 49ers.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: Drake’s had at least 16 carries in three straight weeks and has a nice matchup against the Chiefs this week.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: Lewis gets to face the Bills this week, who are very bad at limiting running backs in fantasy scoring. Lewis has had double digit carries in eight of the nine last games.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: He’s coming off a game in which he rushed 30 times for 158 yards. Anderson has run the ball at least 15 times in three games in a row and has a good matchup against the Redskins.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With Antonio Brown out for a few weeks, Smith-Schuster is likely to get more targets. He caught six passes for 114 yards last week against the Patriots. He has a better matchup this week against the Texans.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings: Diggs didn’t play the last time the Vikings took on the Packers, but he should have a nice outing against a bad Packers pass defense.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams: He scored a touchdown in his return in Week 15 and has been targeted at least seven times in the last three games that he’s played in. The Titans are in the middle third in fantasy points allowed to receivers.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks: This is a vote of confidence despite his last two games which have been terrible. If you drafted Graham, you have to start him. Sometimes you have to trust your stars even when they have tough matchups.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Engram’s been very impressive this year and it doesn’t look like the Giants are quitting. He’s had at least 54 yards receiving in three straight games.
Bears defense/special teams: They’re facing the Browns and that could end up helping you take the championship.
Lions defense/special teams: The Lions have a good matchup as they face a Bengals team that looks as disinterested as it looks bad.
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Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: He’s been a bust this season and his fumble through the end zone last week with the game on the line shows that he’s willing to make desperate plays. Carr has a tough matchup against the Eagles this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: I think he’ll be really good next season. Heck, he’s been really good this season so far since coming over from New England. But facing the Jaguars and its two pro bowl defensive backs is too tall a task.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Taylor was injured the last time he faced the Patriots and this time he has to go on the road. I can see him having a productive day if the game turns into a high-scoring affair, but I don’t expect a big day out of him.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers: He’ll be without his starting quarterback and he has to face a tough Vikings defense. Williams didn’t play against the Vikings in Week 6 but his team was held to just 72 yards rushing.
Buccaneers running backs: Peyton Barber underperformed in place of Doug Martin, who was a healthy scratch, on Monday night. Martin will likely return to the field against the Panthers. Neither is a good start this week.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions: He returned to the field last week, but he had just one rushing attempt. He’s been a real bust this year and can’t be trusted in your lineup.
Robby Anderson, WR, Jets: Anderson was on a roll for a bit, but without Josh McCown in the lineup, he’s not a reliable starting option. He faces a tough Chargers defense this week.
Packers receivers: Davante Adams is in the concussion protocol, and it’s hard to predict whether Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson will have a good day. Most likely, none of the Packers receivers will be very productive against the Vikings defense.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Like Garoppolo, Goodwin’s run of solid performances will likely come to an end against a dominating Jaguars secondary.
Buccaneers tight ends: O.J. Howard has been moved to injured reserve and it doesn’t help that Cameron Brate has to face the Panthers who are good at defending the position.
Seahawks defense/special teams: It’s not the same defense after all the injuries. They’ll have to face Ezekiel Elliott in his return to action after a six-game suspension.
Week 15 kicked off Thursday, but there was action Saturday as well. Kareem Hunt had a big day while Philip Rivers was a real disappointment in the game on Saturday night. Other than the players that had games on Thursday and Saturday, the following rankings are updated through early Sunday morning.
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In fantasy football you just have to trust your best players. If you were a Tom Brady or Alvin Kamara owner in the first round of the playoffs, it may have been your last week in the postseason. If you survived, however, count your blessings. Either way, you can’t blame yourself for starting those guys.
Thursday’s action pits the Broncos against the Colts. You won’t want to start either quarterback and the running backs are low-end flex options at best. You might get lucky with C.J. Anderson or Frank Gore plunging into the end zone on a goal line situation. Otherwise, the only real decent players to start are T.Y. Hilton and Demaryius Thomas. Hilton is definitely a boom or bust type player. Like I said, though, sometimes you have to trust your best players. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 15.
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Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: He’s been fully cleared to return to action and if you held him on your team this whole time then now’s the time to insert him into your starting lineup. Don’t worry about rust. He has a tough matchup against the Panthers, but he was a QB1 in every week but the one in which he was injured. Relax.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: The last time he faced the Texans he wasn’t very special. The Jaguars leaned on their running attack in that contest. In his last six games, however, Bortles has attempted at least 27 passes in each of those contests. He has six touchdowns and just one interception over his last three games.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: He’s had to face tough pass rushes in each of his last three games and it’s shown up in the box score. Cousins should have a decent game against the Cardinals this week. He’s only had one game in which he didn’t throw a touchdown pass.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: Hyde has been a consistent, although quiet, scorer all season long. The amount of touches he gets provides for a nice minimum score every week. Though he has a tough matchup against the Titans, the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo can open things up for the running game.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: He’s had two straight 100-yard games and has a great matchup against the Bills this week. Weather may be a factor, so he may end up with more carries than usual.
Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks: It looks like the Seahawks have finally found a running back they can trust. The Rams give up a lot of points to running backs. Davis has 36 touches over his last two games. He’s dealing with a rib issue, but if he practices near the end of the week, you should start him.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Nelson hasn’t been even a good flex option since Week 6. With the return of Rodgers, Nelson’s value get a big boost. The Panthers are tough, but Rodgers-to-Nelson is often matchup proof.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders: The Cowboys’ defensive backfield has started playing better lately, but Crabtree should have a decent game Sunday night. Amari Cooper is in danger of missing the game with an ankle injury so Crabtree could end up getting more targets than usual.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: The rookie returns from his one-game suspension and Martavis Bryant didn’t do enough last week to supplant him as the No. 2 receiver on the team. Smith-Schuster has a nice matchup against the Patriots this week.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: He had just one catch last week, but it went for 20 yards. I’d expect him to continue to be targeted on deeper routes. Seals-Jones has a nice matchup with the Redskins.
Lions defense/special teams: The Lions are coming off a nice game and scored a touchdown the last time they faced the Bears.
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Jared Goff, QB, Rams: He had a tough time the last time he faced the Seahawks, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 5. There are better options than Goff this week, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he comes out with a decent game as Robert Woods returns.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: Mariota has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in each of his last three games. His mobility may suffer as well as he deals with a minor knee sprain. With not a lot of reliable receiving weapons, I don’t like him in a good matchup with the 49ers.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: The Bengals are in a tailspin so I probably don’t have to tell you to sit Dalton. Have no doubt that he’ll have a rough day against a very good Vikings defense.
Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He scored two touchdowns against the Falcons the last time he faced them. That was on just five carries. I wouldn’t bank on him having that kind of success again this week. The Falcons are in the top third in limiting running backs in fantasy scoring.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions: Abdullah is still dealing with a neck injury, but it’s apparent that his poor play is part of the reason he’s not being rushed back into action. He may be active this week, but don’t insert him into your lineup with Theo Riddick having a bigger impact recently.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles: Though he has a good matchup this week, it’s starting to look like Jay Ajayi will be a bigger factor for Philly. Blount has 15 carries over his last two games while Ajayi had 15 last week.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: He hasn’t had a decent game since Week 11 and the Falcons are a tough matchup this week. If any receiver has a good game this week for the Bucs, it will be Mike Evans.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: The Rams face the Seahawks and Robert Woods is likely returning to the field. With Cooper Kupp and Woods in the picture, I think Watkins will be the odd man out.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens: He’s been hot as of late, but the last time he faced the Browns he was targeted just three times and made one catch for seven yards.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Though he’s healthy enough to play, he hasn’t looked like the player we’re used to. He hasn’t had a good game all year, even before his injury.
Trey Burton, TE, Eagles: He was great with a healthy Carson Wentz and an injured Zach Ertz last week. Those circumstances have changed, obviously.
The Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints to kick off Week 14 and the first week of the fantasy football playoffs. The Saints backfield is in the midst of a historic run as the tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara continue to produce big numbers. They’ve each scored more than five touchdowns and gained 95+ yards from scrimmage per game. If they finish the season that way, they’ll be the first duo to do that since Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in 1987.
It looks like they’ll both finish with an RB1 designation for the season so they’re obvious starts on Thursday. That is, of course, if Mark Ingram is healthy enough after not practicing Wednesday. Michael Thomas has been solid all year and is a nice safe play, though he may not score very high. Julio Jones, on the other side of the field, is likely to bounce back from a tough matchup with the Vikings last week. Matt Ryan should be a safe play, but picking between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is a tougher call. Here’s who else you should start and sit in Week 14.
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Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: He finally started to look like the quarterback that started the season. Smith has a nice matchup this week, facing the Raiders who he torched last time around.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: Winston can make you pull your hair out with the types of decisions he makes. That said, he did well last week as he returned from a shoulder injury. Winston has a decent matchup with the Lions.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Unless he’s facing a top-tier pass defense, he’s a productive fantasy quarterback. He has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last six games.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Running against the 49ers has been pretty easy this season. Miller should have a nice performance.
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys: When the Cowboys stick to the game plan that they use when Ezekiel Elliott is playing, they have success. They did that last week, giving Morris the ball 27 times as he gained 127 yards and scored. The Giants are in the bottom third in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He rushed for over 100 yards last week and Doug Martin is still in the concussion protocol. Even if Martin plays, Barber has done well enough to warrant a flex start in a nice matchup against the Lions. Add to that, the Bucs are out of the playoff hunt and may want to see what they’ve got in Barber as a featured runner.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Don’t worry about a tough matchup with the Redskins pass defense. Allen is playing like he can when fully healthy. Don’t sit him now.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Goodwin has put together a few solid games in a row and with Jimmy Garoppolo now starting, his value gets a boost. The Texans have a tough time stopping wide receivers.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders: He caught a touchdown the last time he faced the Chiefs, but he had just 24 yards receiving. I expect him to do better than that against a weak pass defense. Amari Cooper might even be out this game, as he is currently in the concussion protocol.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: The Giants are the worst team when it comes to defending tight ends. The last time Witten faced the Giants he caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Henry has a wide scoring range, in that he can get you zero points or he could get you double digits. This week he should do well against the Redskins who are in bottom five in points allowed to tight ends.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets: Seferian-Jenkins should do well against the Broncos who have given up eight touchdowns to tight ends so far this season.
Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers: Winston is back, giving Brate newfound relevance.
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Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: He’s coming off a great game against the Lions and has had success with Mike Wallace, but he faces the Steelers this week. They’re too good for Flacco to have fantasy success.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams: I just haven’t seen him play that well against really good defenses. He’s struggled against the Seahawks, Jaguars and Vikings. Goff faces the Eagles next.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: If you streamed him last week against the Colts you were rewarded. Don’t try it this week against the Seahawks.
Eagles running backs: It’s a shame, since they have such a good matchup as they face the Rams. They give up 122.8 yards rushing per game, but divided evenly among three rushers does not make for a good fantasy performance.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: The Texans aren’t that good against the pass, but they try to make up for it with their run defense. They’re in the top-10 in rush defense. The 49ers will possibly let Jimmy Garoppolo loose on a weaker pass defense.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: He has a tough matchup with the Panthers, who are one of the top teams in points allowed to running backs. Plus, Latavius Murray has at least 15 rushes in seven straight weeks.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens: Wallace has been good in spots this season, better than Jeremy Maclin. I don’t expect him to have much success against the Steelers this time around.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Kenny Stills has surpassed Parker as the No. 2 receiver on the team. Even with a decent matchup against the Patriots, there’s no reason to think he’ll break out this week.
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: Amendola hasn’t produced when he’s had favorable matchups and Chris Hogan may return this week.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: He’s been a minor disappointment and he has a tough draw, taking on the Panthers this week.
Tyler Kroft, TE, Bengals: Kroft has been a nice surprise, but he has a tough matchup against the Bears this week. They’ve only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this season.
The Tennessee Titans travel to Pittsburgh as they take on the Steelers to kick off Week 11 of NFL action. We’re getting down to the playoff push in fantasy football and your start-sit decisions are critical.
In the opening game of the week you should be safe starting Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. I wouldn’t be afraid of giving Ben Roethlisberger the nod either. Leave Marcus Mariota on the bench, however. The only Titan I feel comfortable starting this week is DeMarco Murray. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 11.
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Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: The Patriots weren’t in as much trouble as we thought they were to start the season, but their pass defense is still the worst in the league in terms of yards allowed per game. Carr has had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots and has thrown for at least 300 yards in three straight games.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: I’ve talked about his expected regression a lot this season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been solid. He’s just not putting up the great numbers from last season. This week he should do well against the Seahawks as they’re without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Ryan’s thrown at least two TDs in three straight games.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: If Tyron Smith returns to the field for the contest with the Eagles then Prescott should return to his QB1 status. If the Cowboys fall behind, as you may expect against the streaking Eagles, Prescott is likely to throw a lot. If he gets the protection he’s used to, he could be productive.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: With Devonta Freeman likely out as he recovers from a concussion, Coleman should be productive against the Seahawks on Monday night. He did well in relief against the Cowboys in Week 10, rushing for 83 yards and scoring a touchdown.
Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants: Darkwa has 30 carries and 141 yards rushing over the last two weeks. If he can find the end zone this week, he could be a solid play. He faces the Chiefs run defense which has allowed 131 yards rushing per game and nine rushing touchdowns.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: I suggested him as a start last week and that turned out well as he rushed for 90 yards and scored against the Lions. This week he faces the Jaguars who are nearly as bad against the run as they are good against the pass. They give up 121 yards rushing per game. Game script should be in Crowell’s favor as you don’t expect the Jags to jump out to a big lead.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: The Vikings take on the Rams in an interesting matchup this week. I don’t expect either team to run away with the win, so both running games should stay relevant. The Rams allow 118 rushing yards per game, 24th in the league.
Eagles receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz all have an opportunity to shine against the Cowboys Sunday night. Dallas gives up 248 yards receiving per game and will be without defensive leader Sean Lee.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars: He’s had a nice run over the last two weeks and gets to face the Browns this week. They’ve given up 19 touchdown passes which is tied for second worst in the league.
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: The last time he faced a low-ranked pass defense he broke out for 11 catches and over 200 yards receiving. That was against the Chiefs in Week 7 and the Patriots give up more receiving yards per game.
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Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: He should sit this week as he faces the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They give up just 182 yards passing per game and have surrendered just eight touchdown passes. Without a true No. 1 wideout, Mariota will likely struggle.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He’s currently in the concussion protocol, but even if he’s healthy enough to play, it’s not a good matchup as he faces the Bills defense. Buffalo has allowed just seven touchdowns through the air and has picked off 11 passes.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Taylor had his worst game last week as he threw for just 56 yards. The performance was so bad the Bills have decided to give Nathan Peterman a shot. The Chargers give up 209 yards passing per game and are tied for second in the league with 29 sacks so neither Bills QB would be a solid play this week.
Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins: Though Rob Kelley has been shut down, I don’t think Perine is an automatic start as he faces the Saints this week. They give up a good amount of rushing yards, but they’ve only given up five rushing touchdowns this season. Perine has had opportunities earlier in the season and didn’t do much with them.
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys: He’ll get the start again with Ezekiel Elliott still suspended, but he shouldn’t start for your fantasy team this week. The Eagles rushing defense gives up just 66 yards per game and has surrendered just four touchdowns on the ground.
Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins: Kenyan Drake is the running back to play if you’ve got to choose between the leftover running backs in Miami now that Jay Ajayi is gone. Williams rushed nine times for just 19 yards on Monday night and the Bucs only allow 110 yards rushing per game.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: He’s had two disappointing games in a row and the Falcons give up 219 yards receiving per game. Doug Baldwin may be the only wide receiver you want to start for the Seahawks.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: A disappointment early on this season, he’s only been productive over the last two weeks due to scoring in each of those weeks. The volume is still lacking as he’s only had three catches in the last two games. The Vikings are a tough draw and Robert Woods seems to be the new No. 1 in Los Angeles.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: It’s probably next to impossible to sit him for those that drafted him early, but he’s been a quarter of the fantasy player he was with Aaron Rodgers. The Ravens are second-best in receiving yards allowed.
The Buffalo Bills take on the N.Y. Jets to kick off Week 9 of NFL action on Thursday. If the Bills come away with a win they’ll be tied for the best record in the AFC at 6-2.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor must have confused Halloween for Christmas when he learned his team traded for Kelvin Benjamin. The addition of the big target is an immediate upgrade at the position. The new Bill probably won’t play Thursday, but I still like Taylor to start. Of course you’ll start LeSean McCoy as well. On the other side of the ball, Matt Forte is an OK flex play. Here’s a look at who else you should start and sit in Week 9.
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Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He didn’t throw a touchdown pass against the Steelers in Week 8, but he amassed 423 passing yards. Don’t worry about him too much. He’ll get the ball in the end zone against the Packers this weekend.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Before last week’s tough weather conditions, Cousins had four straight great fantasy games. He’s facing Seattle on the road this week, but you saw what a rookie did to them on Sunday. Now they could be without Earl Thomas who is nursing a hamstring.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints: He was already being productive before Adrian Peterson was sent to Arizona, but he could be really special now. If Mark Ingram continues to have fumbling issues, it could get even better for Kamara. As of now, I think both Saints running backs are solid starts against the Buccaneers.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Cardinals: After Peterson had a huge first game with the Cardinals, everyone was on board with him being effective. Then he had a tough go against the Rams in London. Since then Arizona has had a week off and they are set to face the 49ers. Peterson should do well against a defense that struggles at limiting running backs.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: He’s had two games in a row of success catching passes out of the backfield. This week he should do damage on the ground against the Jaguars who aren’t good at stopping the run.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: He has three touchdowns in his last two games and I’m thinking he can keep up the production against the Redskins. Josh Norman is likely to stick with Doug Baldwin, leaving Richardson with softer coverage.
Ted Ginn, WR, Saints: The Bucs are the worst team at limiting wide receivers in fantasy scoring. Ginn is on a decent roll as of late, catching 13 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown in the last three games.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets: He doesn’t have the easiest matchup as he faces the Bills. They’ve only allowed six touchdown receptions, but they’ve given up the fourth most receiving yards. Kearse looks like a good flex play this week.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: As bad as the Colts are, Doyle has been a bright spot for fantasy. He has 25 catches, 215 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. The Texans are in the bottom third at limiting tight ends.
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Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: I’m seeing some people looking to him as a good start this week as he faces the Saints. There are a lot of concerns, however. First, he’s got an AC joint injury he’s dealing with in his throwing shoulder and second, the Saints defense is playing better of late.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Giants were on a bye in Week 8 so it’s probably a good idea to remind you here that Manning isn’t very good this season. He’s without his top two receivers, though he gets Sterling Shepard back. The Rams are a tough draw, however.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: He’s had a tough season so far and he’s got to face one of the best defensive backfields this week. The Jaguars are outstanding at limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy points.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: Anderson’s been disappointing this season and he has a really tough matchup against the Eagles. It doesn’t help that his quarterback situation seems to be up in the air.
Miami running backs: Don’t get enticed by new opportunity for Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake. Neither could beat out Jay Ajayi, and he wasn’t doing well behind the Dolphins line either. This will most likely be a running-back-by-committee situation as well.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: Speaking of Ajayi, wait a week before inserting him into your starting lineup. He’s new in town and he has to face the Broncos right away. LeGarrette Blount is still a factor as well. Ajayi is possibly a decent flex play, but temper your expectations if you have to start him.
Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: He was a decent start last week, but this week is a different story. DeVante Parker is likely to return for Miami, putting Stills further down the pecking order.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons: Sanu is coming off a good game, but he’s got a tougher matchup this week as he faces the Panthers. They’re in the top 10 of defenses at limiting wide receiver fantasy points.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers: I’m thinking he’ll be the odd man out this week. Not that the other two main targets in Green Bay will have much better days. It’s a tough hand the Packers have been dealt with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback.
UPDATE: Previously a must-start player, Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice on Thursday and it’s a sad end to a promising start for the rookie. Here’s what was written before we learned of his injury: This is probably the last time he’ll be in this section. Not because he won’t be worthy of a start, but because he’s an auto-start from now until the end of the year. If he can do what he did to the Seahawks, he can do it against anyone. This week it’s going to be the Colts.
Week 8 is upon us and that means there are a ton of byes on the schedule. Players of note you’ll be missing: Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray and Larry Fitzgerald. Hopefully you made the waiver claims I suggested Tuesday to help deal with the missing stars.
Thursday night Miami faces Baltimore and I’d feel good starting Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry and even Matt Moore as a possible streaming quarterback. Ajayi has a great opportunity to get on a roll against a run defense that allows a league-high 145 yards rushing per game. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 8.
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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Though he faces the Patriots, who looked good against Matt Ryan, Rivers has been a model of consistency this season. With just one truly bad game on his log, I expect him to have success against the Patriots, especially after he had a good week against the Broncos.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: His run of solid outings came to an end against the Steelers last weekend, but I wouldn’t be afraid of starting him against the Colts this week. The Colts are second worst in passing yards allowed, giving up over 300 per game.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Watson takes on the Seahawks who are good against the pass, but they’ve had some issues against running quarterbacks. They allowed at least 27 yards rushing to both Jacoby Brissett and Marcus Mariota. Both had at least a touchdown pass as well. I think Watson’s more talented than both of those QBs and he’ll be helped with a good rushing attack.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Game script held him to just seven rushes last week as the Bengals had to try to catch up during the second half of the loss to the Steelers. Before that game Mixon had at least 15 rushes in each of the previous three games. He has a dream matchup against the Colts this week.
Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins: The Cowboys are middle of the road in defending running backs, but they especially struggle against pass-catching running backs. They gave up nearly 94 yards receiving and a touchdown to Todd Gurley. Andre Ellington caught five passes for 59 yards and Shane Vereen had 51 yards receiving.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: Lewis is taking control of the backfield in New England, carrying the ball at least 11 times in each of the last two weeks. He clearly looks like the most talented back for the Patriots and he should have a nice day against the Chargers who give up over 140 yards rushing per game.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles: He’s on a touchdown streak and the Eagles are very hot right now with Carson Wentz entering the possible MVP conversation. Agholor’s been targeted at least four times in four straight weeks and should be productive against the 49ers.
Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers: Cam Newton had another bad week after having a nice two-game stretch. He should bounce back this week against the Buccaneers to the benefit of Funchess. Tampa Bay gives up over 300 yards receiving per game.
Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: I like Stills as a flex start this week since he plays well with Matt Moore at quarterback. Stills has three touchdowns in the last two games. Both of his scores this week came when Moore entered the game for an injured Jay Cutler.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Although he’s had two scoreless weeks this season, he’s starting to become the consistent tight end target for Rivers. Henry has a good matchup against the Patriots this week.
Saints defense/special teams: They’re trending in the right direction and should keep it up against the Bears’ rookie quarterback who has few receiving options.
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Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He’s been blessed with a pretty good schedule early on, but this week he faces a really tough Steelers defense. Pittsburgh allows just 147 yards passing per game. They give up a league-best 5.6 yards per completion.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Big Ben is on the road this week so you’re automatically wary. The Lions pass defense is better than average. They give up more than 244 yards passing per game, but they intercepted Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan three times each. They also picked off Drew Brees twice.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: He finally broke a streak of terrible performances with a big game last Thursday. Carr has a tough matchup against the Bills on Sunday. Add a rainy forecast to the mix and I don’t think he puts up another top-12 performance this week.
Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: Murray had a great game last week, but I don’t think he can keep it up against the Browns. They allow just 83.7 yards rushing per game. I’d expect Jerick McKinnon to have the most success as he’s a bigger receiving threat.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: I’m not sure if it’s even necessary to tell you to sit him at this point. He’s facing the Vikings so he’ll have a tough time. They give up just 76.6 yards per game and have allowed just one touchdown on the ground.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: The Saints defense has played well in four straight wins. Cohen looked good to start the season, especially as a passing option, but he probably won’t have success against New Orleans. The Saints have been doing a great job of limiting running backs catching out of the backfield.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: I don’t trust him at this point. He’s got a tough matchup against the Bengals this week and the Colts offense is just terrible.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: I’ve given him a lot of chances this season, but it’s not looking like he’s coming around. He’s frustrated and it’s hard to see him being productive while being a distraction. With the team demoting him to scout team, he’s definitely a player you can drop. Holding out hope for a trade may end up being foolish.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Parker is dealing with an ankle injury and has a tough matchup with the Ravens. He doesn’t have the same rapport with Moore that Stills has.
Broncos defense/special teams: They’re not the same dominant defense they have been in the recent past and they face a potent offense in the Chiefs. Kareem Hunt is on a great roll and should continue to play well.